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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 14, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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>> we will be able to see change. ♪ the two big parties in the united states don't agree on much, but they both got behind a rewrite of the bush era, no child left behind act, passing the every student succeeds act by an overwhelming margin. does this new law represent much of a departure from the old law, which gave the federal government a lot more power over educational policy in the united states. will the back to no child, and
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ahead to every child succeed? it's the "inside story." ♪ welcome to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. it was one of the signature domestic policies of the early president of president bush. giving an important place to standardized testing in figuring out which schools succeeded and failed. using federal money as carrot and stick, no child left behind put lots of power in the hands of education, and was spearheaded by a republican president. the federal department of education is long before a par the of the republican party nationwide. now that law is out. education secretary arne duncan is on his way out, and this new
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bipartisan measure means a new relationship between the federal government and school districts yet again. >> both parties have been talking about education reform for quite a while. time to come together to get it done. so that we can truthfully say in america, no child will be left behind. >> president george w. bush wrote a new chapter in education in 2001. six years later he doubled down. the problem was it wasn't working, at least in the eyes of many educators. while the bush administration may have had good intentions, it became a controversial thorn in the side of teachers coast-to-coast. now president obama is attempting to rewrite the book. >> what we want to do is to get
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rid of unnecessary standardized tests so that more teachers can spend time engaging in student learning while at the same time making sure that parents and teachers have clear information on their children's academic performance. >> president obama signed the every student succeeds act into law last week. the rare bipartisan agreement gives the lion's share of accountability back to the states. >> this is the biggest rewrite of our education laws in 25 years. >> it also eases pressure to submit to federal mandates. >> this bill makes long overdue fixes to the last education law, replacing the one size fits all approach, to reform to provide every student with a well-rounded well-rounded education. it promotes real partnership
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between the states and the federal government. >> schools will still be required to submit annualized standard tests in certain grades but they can use other factors to assess performance. while the details and interpretation of those tests are decided by the states. >> every child regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make out of their lives what they will? >> reporter: critics argue the new law doesn't go far enough in removing the federal government from the classroom, and while it does contain some new measures like $250 million in annual funding for early childhood education, most parents won't see many changes. schools across the country have been operating under no child
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left behind waivers for years. >> joining me now is a former teacher who serves on the house education and work force community. his district includes riverside, california, congressman welcome to the people. what differences will people who are not professionals in the swift between no child left behind, and every student succeeds? >> well, depending on where you live some states are already living under waivers. but for the most part it will be mean less focus on testing, less preparation in the classroom, a return to project-based learning, and admin -- administrators supporting teachers in engaging in risk. so much of the focus was turned away interest that, because people were so focused on moving
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the testing needle. >> i understand why testing was so unpopular, and -- during the life of no child left behind, i got two kids through public school, and i'm not getting a third one through, and it seemed like one fifth of the school year was taken up by test prep, and test taking. but tests do tell us something. by taking the emphasis off of them, are we also robbing ourselves of the information they give us. >> this president restart button on education reform, doesn't mean we're throwing the testing out completely. i do agree that the well-intended part of -- of the no child left behind law, did force us to take a look at the achievement gap and did force us to take a look at subgroups and minority groups, but the test and punish part, the high stakes
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attached to the test were what didn't work, and caused people to try to gain the testing regimen. we narrowed the curriculum, we took arts and music out of the curriculum, and focused feignly on what was being tested which was english and math, and this provided a dem -- diminution. >> you taught school for a long time. and i'm sure over the years there were kids who had a difficult time in their classes because of their own lack of proficiency either with english, written expression, reading comprehension, when we create whole classes of kids like that, or whole schools with kids with some of those same weaknesses does this new law provide a
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response that fits the crisis that a school might be in? >> i taught in a school that was low income. 80% of the high school students that i taught were free or reduced-school lunch qualified. i did teach a predominantly latino school, and i remember being a 9th grade teacher and encountering students who were not ready to read charles dickens at the ninth grade that was part of the textbook that we were required to teach. the no child left behind law left very little flexibility. there was a buzz phrase called equal access to the curricular standards, and if we departed from that text -- it was something we just couldn't do. i see a lot of positive things that could happen, given that states have more flexibility in being able to meet the needs of
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students in our very, very diverse country. >> will the law just continue to reproduce the kind of results we have been getting so far? because the parents who are best able to advocate for their kids and advocate for their school systems are more able to provide their own children with more of everything, so does everybody end up in the same place in the race? >> well, the law -- the law moves away from test and punish, to test and reveal. annual testing is still required but the federal government is no longer determines how that works in states. the states are now responsible for submitting accountability plans to the secretary of education. the public is still going to be privy to the testing -- the tests that do occur, but tests aren't going to be the soul
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determinant or soul criteria. there is a much broader array of things we need to take a look at. no child left behind got us taking a serious look at performance in the schools, but the test and punishment regimen resulted in too many perverse and unintended consequences that it hurt what was going on in the classro classroom. >> representative i have to stop you there. but thank you very much for joining us. he was a teacher for more than 20 years. great to see you. does removing some of the restrictions of no child left behind represent help for kids attending the low-est performing schools. does the law help the kids who are hardest to reach, hardest to teach? going local again. stay with us. it's inside story.
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>> we are scared. >>...have an organized right-wing movement trying to kill others. you are watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. we're looking at the new every student succeeds act. a bipartisan bill signed into law by the president that replaces the no child left behind act of the bush years. joining me are two people who spent their careers advocating for students who have come to different conclusions about the new law. the director for the center of
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school transformation, and the union representing more than a million and a half teachers and other school staffs nationwide. both of my guests are former school teachers. the congressman said the new law is not everything he wanted. but it does event a step forward, would you agree? >> i think it is a step forward. but no child left behind is a step forward. we need to move much further than a single step. i think the law leaves out some issues unaddressed. the inequality in learning opportunities for kids. particularly for kids that are poverty concentrated. and the guidance on what schools should do so serve the kids that the congressmen mentioned. kids learning english for the first time, kids with other needs. >> i hear you when you talk about the social transfoerlt makes of schools, and the need to go down that road, but is
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that politically in the guards in 2015? >> that's what i mean, the federal government at one time did address those issues. in 1965 when the law was adopted, president johnson understanding that the law was part of a civil rights issue. and that was the reason to focus in on the neediest children. since no child left behind we focused on academic standards, but not learning opportunities. do kids get to go into classrooms where the teachers are prepared and able to meet their needs, and have the resources they need? those are the issues we should look out. >> your union has come out in favor of the new law. why the praise? >> if we were writing a law and had a democratic congress who pedro and i could work with, you would have the 2015 version of
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what lyndon baines johnson did in 1965. but what this has done, and the reason for the praise is that it takes a lot of bad stuff away, but it doesn't actually say that this is what you need to do in terms of meeting the needs of the whole child, dealing with long-term equity issues, dealing with segregation, creating community schools, so those are a lot of things that we wanted, but what happened is if we don't get rid of some of the bad things that were creating a sanctioning and a toxic environment, we're not -- we're not actually going to take that next step, whereas i would have loved to see the federal government do those kinds of things, what is now happening is the states will be able to do it. will all states do that? of course not. but if we can get some states to do it, and start showing what really works again in public education, we need to reach all
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kids, and we need a lot more in -- intuition, and engine knewty, and creativitcreativity latitude for teachers to address the whole child. >> when parents couldn't find good community schools, they often changed communities, or created communities from which a school could be drawn that met their needs. what makes you think we could change that through legislation or even begin that conversation in the 21st century? >> well, what -- what has happened in many cities across the country is there has been a disinvestment in schools, particularly urban areas. anybody who can have left those schools, so many of the public schools in our cities only serve the poorest children and usually without adequate resources. if we want to reverse that, and
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we should, you have got to reinvest in the learning opportunities. you have to have the things that attract middle class students. and consequently we're not seeing the diversity we should be. >> the new law reduces some of the power and reach of standardized testing. the backlash against the expanded influence of testing, joined together teacher's unions, parents and many school administrators. as the new law takes effect, will we know as much about how students are doing? going local again. stay with it, it's inside story. >> we have people who are desperately in need of jobs. >> hear from citizens caught in the crossfire... >> we want freedom, freedom! >>...and what america can learn from chicago's ongoing gun violence.
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welcome back to "inside story," i'm ray suarez.
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american federation of teachers, taught at a high school in brooklyn new york. professor brought in oakland, california. they are here to look at the new every student succeeds act just signed in to law by the president. you mentioned the law is to be praised by taking bad things away. but by taking away the testing, don't we also lose a lot of intelligence about which schools are not providing a good solid foundation for their kids. and pieces of information that are pretty useful to have? >> so ray, those pieces of information still exist, but what happens is we're not fixated on only those pieces of information, as opposed to other information and latitude that people need. for example, right now project-based instruction has been squeezed out of the
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curriculum, and that has been scene, if you think about it common sensicly, if you are engaging kids in projects where they are critically thinking, they are working with each other. they see what happens if they fall down or stumble or like if they are doing a robotic's project, it doesn't work, those are all skills we need to teach kids, but that is not on the test. so we need to broaden the kinds of things that people can do, and use data to inform instruction not as a hammer or as the instruction. >> when you hear discussion, pedro, of robotics and the very important lessons that can be drawn from something that can't balance itself, is that even really two or three steps ahead of where you are thinking about schools of 500 and 600 kids where the kids aren't properly fed, they come from a house with no books, they come from a house where no one reads to them, and
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in a hypersegregate environment where almost everybody in the school is as poor as they are? >> no. i think we have to increase the services available to school. but also increase the quality of what kids are exposed to. they certainly need to be engaged and challenged and stimulated with interesting curriculum, and that is not happening nearly enough. so i agree with randi on that, at the same time, we need social workers, psychologists, and other services to address the issues that go with poverty. >> absolutely. >> they go hand in hand. >> you need both, ray. you need both and. if we're not addressing what is some of the key causes for -- for poverty in america, in terms of -- of housing, transportation, parents having good jobs, and then also what we need to do in terms of social-emotional issues in schools, then one cannot substitute for the other.
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we need both. >> but in the real world, administrators are looking at their censor for next september, let's say, and they have lost 100 kids or 50 kids to the local charter school, which means they are going to get fewer heads on the staff. their school psychologist is going to go from full-time to halftime, their school nurse is going to go from halftime to quarter time, these are real-life problems that have to do with the money going in, and the kids -- the 500 or so kids, 400 kids sitting there and saying okay. let's go to work. pedro? >> that's why it can't just be addressed at the local level. you need policies at the state level that focus on how do we ensure that kids are receiving a quality education regardless of where they live. this is when it becomes important to figure out what role should charter schools play. it's not in anyone's interests
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to waste resources in that way. and there has been absence of effective policy. the real challenge is going to be do they know what to do with it. and there aren't too many states that are good at helping states that are struggle. >> randi i left it for last, because cynics would say, and i'm not a cynic, that you will like this law because it takes some of the burden off of the teachers that were being put rightly or wrongly squarely on their shoulders. is this just about protecting your members? >> no, because educating children is a shared responsibility. and that's why we're talking about public education, but we need the kind of policies that help address the two-thirds of the achievement gap that doesn't start in a classroom. and so frankly, it's important for us to all step up.
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you know, i watched a law that basically shifted all responsibility on the backs of individual teachers. and that's not fair to children, parents, or the people who really want to teach. so what i think this law does with all of the caveats that pedro said, is we have to start creating a spark again, and a can-do at ought to for kids. we have to stop them being so anxious about testing, and stop demoralizing teachers. and this is a step towards that. >> how long before we know whether this new approach is going to work? five years, three years? >> i would state is going to be a year before it's instituted, but instead of looking for big leaps and bounds, we need to see ask every public school a school that parents want to send their
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kids do, educators want to work at, and kids are engaged. and when you see those kinds of things, we will start to improve. >> i want to thank my guests for joining me. i'll be back in a moment on a final thought on what we ask schools to do, and what we expect them to do. stay with us. more. >> this is for recreational drones. you have to do it if you fly a little drone. the only way to get better is to challenge yourself,
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not the other way around. >> i went to public school, kindergarten through 12 grade. most kids do. i wonder if we aren't asking them to do impossible things, and then getting mad when they do. the last grade of school completed by your parents. if your parents didn't finish high school, the chances of you completing high school will diminished. in the years since the civil rights acts were signed by president johnson all kinds of
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neighborhoods have become more uniform. a middle-aged person might remember when there were poorer and richer people living nearby. today there are plenty of elementary schools where a poor kid can walk through the door and see nothing but poor kids for the rest of the day. so what does a standardized test tell you when all is said and done? sure it tells you whether the students have mastered the material, but also tell you which kids have the good judgment in the past to choose well-educat well-educated parents. blaming that on teachers seems unfair. i'm ray suarez, and that's the
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inside story. ♪ this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm bisi onile-ere. tony harris has the night off. hitting isil harder than ever, president obama defends his strategy against the work. rich versus poor, safe versus violent. the two different sides of chicago. our special series. and rules of the sky, the faa announces new regulations for drones. ♪

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